Full text of professional adventurer Jonathan Ljungqvist’s talk: How to Increase Love in Your Relationship at TEDxZagreb conference.
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Listen to the MP3 Audio here:
Jonathan Ljungqvist – Professional adventurer & coach
Is there a tool out there to create more lasting love?
In Sweden, where I come from, we have around 40,000 marriages each year; and each year, we have around 20,000 divorces. Why is it like this?
How many in here has been in love? Raise your hand. How many in here would say love can be quite complicated? Yeah. So, so.
Today, it’s been one year since my girlfriend, Amanda and I started to work on a project… on a project to scientifically increase the love back to our relationship.
And I’m not a scientist; I’m not a professor; I’m just a regular guy who did an awesome experiment, and that experiment changed my life and it changed my relationship. And today, I want to give you concrete tools, so you can do the same.
Does that sound like 16 well-invested minutes of your life? Good.
Do you remember the feeling of falling in love? For me it happened 10 years ago, with Amanda. I mean, every time I looked at her, it was like my heart was melting. I mean, she could be away from me for 20 minutes and I would pick up my phone and send her this text, ‘Hey love, I miss you. Do you miss me?’ Of the 20 minutes!
I mean, I was that guy who could come to her work with flowers, and I usually played these songs to her and I couldn’t even play the guitar. But time flies.
And seven years passed. And after seven years, it’s not really the same, right? Then it’s more, she’s been gone for ten hours and you pick up your phone and you send her this text, ‘Hey, don’t forget to buy some sips for tonight. The movie will start at nine. Don’t be late.’ No songs. No flowers.
And last year, we come to a make-it-or-break-it point in our relationship. I still remember that late October evening, when Amanda called. She was crying. She said, “Jonathan, I don’t think our relationship will work.”
I sat down on myself that evening and I was asking myself, “Why did this happen?” I mean, I felt ashamed over myself because she was the love of my life.
But why did it happen? So I was thinking about it and I realized that I have been living this success-chasing life, chasing fame, chasing glory, as an adventurer out in the world, doing expedition after expedition, and for what? Because somewhere along that path, I lost the sense of feeling certain emotions towards myself and others. I could feel the emotions of stress, anger, frustration, but the emotion of love, gratitude, empathy, it was very very hard for me to feel those emotions.
And I guess that might be a big reason why the relationship wasn’t working. So a couple of days after that, I went to my mentor and I told him everything; I told him about the feelings, about the love problem; I told him everything, and he smiled. He smiled! He looked at me with playful smile and he took a glass, and he said, “Jonathan, I will explain this in a very simple way, because you’re only 26.”
And he took his glass and he added some water. And then he also added ten straws in the glass. And then he said, “Jonathan, the glass is your brain. The water, the liquid is your emotions. And these straws are the receptors. Okay, Jonathan?”
I said, “Okay.”
And then he said, “Jonathan, now the water, the liquid is your emotions of frustration, stress, anger… the feelings you have an easy time to feel. And here, you have 10 straws, strong straws. And these straws has a very easy time conveying these feelings and you can feel them; it’s easy for you, right?”
And I said, “Yes.”
And then he said, “Jonathan, now the water, the liquid is the emotion of gratitude, love, empathy; the feelings you have a harder time to feel, okay?”
And then he removed nine straws and only one remained. And then he said, “Here you only have one straw. And this one straw might even be blocked. And this one straw is called oxytocin, oxytocin receptor. An oxytocin has the following effects; it increases your feeling of love, it increases your feeling of gratitude, and it increases your feelings of empathy. Do you want to feel more of these emotions, Jonathan?”
Yes, I want to.
And he said, “There’s one thing you must understand then. If you want to grow a muscle, you need to work out almost every single day for a long period of time. If you do that, you might get muscles like I. It’s the same ways with growing new pathways in the brain, growing new receptors; you need to work out on certain techniques. Basically, every single day for a long period of time. If you do that Jonathan, you might grow new oxytocin receptors and you might be able to feel more of those emotions again. And if you apply that in your relationship, that’s love. That’s love, Jonathan.”
So, I runned home to Amanda and I told her about this. She looked at me, quite impressed. Is she studying medicine? And we decided to give our relationship one more try, and we were going to do a project. We were going to do the Oxytocin Project. And that meant that we were going to work on oxytocin creating techniques, every single day for a couple of months, and see what will be the result.
Sounds interesting? So we googled, we analyzed, we looked for these techniques, and we found around 20. And today, I’m going to share three of them. Are you interested to know what it is? Good.
Because the first one can change the atmosphere in the room within seconds, and we’re going to try that technique. Okay? And this might even be a little bit scary for somebody, but it’s okay. It’s okay.
So I want everybody to stand up. Quickly because I don’t have a lot of time. So we stand up. And now, I want you, when I count to three, I want you to hug. I want you to hug the person that stands next to you or behind you. So I will count to three. So, 1 2 3. Let’s hug. Let’s hug and hold, hold, hold, hold. Good job. Give yourself an applaud. Good job. You can sit down.
Would you say the atmosphere in this room have changed? Yes. Hugging and touching increases the oxytocin production. And, I mean, starting the day with some hugging and ending the day with some hugging. There are other more touching techniques to increase the oxytocin levels but I won’t tell you about them. Dirty audience!
A man is an expert in giving and receiving hugs, so this is so simple but so so powerful to have more hugs every single day.
The second technique I want to talk about, I use it every single day and I’ve done it for six months now, I’d done it for six months; and that’s Gratitude Meditation.
Professor Robert Hammond said, “Gratitude blocks toxic emotions, such envy, such depression, such anger, which can destroy our happiness.” Study after study after study say the same: Gratitude increases our well-being.